Don’t get the title twisted! If you’re from the DMV then more than likely you have heard of Gia Peppers. This woman absolutely needs no introduction as she has killed it in the city for years working on-camera and behind the scenes with BET, the NBA, Essence Magazine, Billboard, Complex, Hot 97, and many more. As someone who values the importance of showing their peers that they can do whatever they put their mind to I was extremely excited to interview Gia for this series as we continue to shed a light on the women here in the DMV who are doing marvelous things.
When we were first coming up with a list of individuals to highlight here in the DMV the very first name on my list of people to interview was Gia Peppers. Gia is such an inspiration for many here in the city including myself as everyone is so proud of her accomplishments and what she has coming next! I had the incredible honor of sitting down with Gia to discuss her journey, her faith, and what new projects she has in store for fans to tune into! Check out our Q&A below.
Q: Thank you so much for being here today with us! First off as an advocate for mental health I always ask. How are you doing? How has your 2021 been so far Gia?
Gia Peppers: I really can’t complain. My family is good and I’m good! Everyone is doing really well and I’m really grateful that especially during this crazy time that we all have stayed connected. I thank God for the internet and thank God for different ways we were able to thankfully be put together during this quarantine. My family and I have been quarantining back and forward between New York and the DMV quite a bit but it’s been great because when can you spend this much time with your family? That’s been the silver lining through this whole process. When will we ever be able to spend this much time with the people that matter most? So I’m definitely grateful. Other than trying to balance this crazy schedule of mines haha…I’ve been doing pretty well!
Q: What was growing up like for you here in the DMV?
Gia Peppers: It was everything! I tell people all the time if I can God willing I will be able to raise a family here in the DMV! I was born in DC and grew up in Northeast and then moved out to PG county, Lake Arbor, Bowie to be exact. Mitchellville to be exact. My parents loved the idea of having different spots so then we moved to Montgomery County later in life and now they’re back in Silver Spring. I went to St. John’s College High School so it was everything growing up here! My mom is a Howard grad so Howard is a major part of my story. I feel like a lot of the people who live in the DMV their parents either went to Howard, work at Howard, or had to something with Howard, so there’s always been a lot of love and admiration there.
When I graduated from high school I was like I don’t think I want to go to Howard just because everything I had done up to that point had been with Howard. So Girl Scout camp, Acting Camp, and Classes. I was pretty familiar with Howard’s campus, but looking back I do wish I went to an HBCU just because of how dope the experience could have been! With that being said I did go to school in New Jersey at Rutgers University which was not bad and it definitely worked for what I needed it to work for. My intention was to go there to be close enough to home if I needed to get home and to be close enough to the city if I wanted to intern so it ended up working out both ways but growing up in DC was everything.
When I was there it was still Chocolate City so there were black people from all walks of life. Sure we had a few people on drugs here and there but there were black doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and high-ranking government officials that were just as dope and just as important to the community so when I grew up my parent’s circle was such an inspiration. I only knew that black people could be anything and be the most excellent version of themselves in their careers and still have a family and a gorgeous home with two and a half kids and a white picket fence. Or life could also throw you some curveballs and maybe even be tragic and you might end up unfortunately homeless. I was just aware of a lot growing up. Nothing was ever a culture shock with any city or suburbs because I had exposure to both especially blackness in both. When I left I didn’t realize how unique that is unless you grew up in Atlanta or certain areas in the south. Seeing both experiences simultaneously was unique cause I didn’t know everybody doesn’t know a black doctor.
When I went to college all of my friends were like your doctors black? I was like your doctors not black haha?! I didn’t realize how crazy that was until I left and came back and I knew that was a great experience that I want my children to be able to know. I think the black experience has certainly changed since the nineties because you can get this experience in other places more often than in 1990 or 1995 when I was a kid but still the DMV always has something so special and it’s so close to my heart. I think the people are dope, the art is dope, the gogo music will always have my heart, U street will always be a lit Saturday night, working for the Washington Wizards and growing up going to games because my dad worked at NPR which was blocks away from the arena so we’d get tickets all the time and go and see Juan Dixon, Kwame Brown, Michael Jordan and Richard Hamilton. So I grew up in that arena. So then when I started working for them it was such a full-circle moment for me as Arena Host because the city voted me in. So for me, it is my home, it is my heart, it is where I go for my peace and restoration, and my friends and family are there. So if it’s up to me I will be raising a family in the DMV but God willing we will see how that works out. I love the DMV with my whole heart!
Q: As someone who has been blessed working with BET, the NBA, Billboard, Complex, and many more how has your faith guided you throughout your journey?
I would not be here without my faith. I know that it is in him who I move and have my being. In all things, I trust the lord. At the end of the day, I don’t know who I would be without that foundation. This industry is so fickle and it’s very scary at times and lonely as well. Even when you are in these spaces where there’s a whole bunch of people you still feel alone. At the end of the day when it comes to these business deals and opportunities, you have no idea what people’s intentions are for you and sometimes those intentions can be blinding. You may be going into it thinking it is the opportunity of your life when in reality they may only be using you for six weeks and toss you out when they’re done, so I have learned a long time ago to not question the opportunities or places God has me. To understand that when I’m walking into a room it’s because God put me there. He wrote my story even before I was born. So if I’m supposed to be here it’s a slap in the face to all of my grandmother’s prayers, my mother’s prayers, my ancestor’s prayers, and everyone if I act like I am timid and don’t belong because I’m afraid of what might happen. I’ve learned to do so much and be so much through my faith.
Growing up in church we all knew somebody’s grandmother that took us to something. Our first consistent church was when we moved out of PG County into the North Rockville area. I remember not understanding my relationship with God until we started singing in the choir. I knew God was there, I knew God was omnipotent, I knew God was powerful, I knew he was a mighty God, and every Sunday you had to go learn about him but when you’re 12 your like can we hurry this up haha. So I didn’t get it until I started to see the spirit move for myself. I was 15 and I saw people stand up and I heard our voices in harmony singing “On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand” and I knew this is why God is so important because he is the faith that has carried black people from 400 years of oppression. He’s the faith that has made people understand their purpose and their reason for living when everything around them feels horrible. He’s the reason why we continue! I love the faith journey because it is literally from faith to faith. It’s from glory to glory.
I am still very much learning. I am definitely further and more faithful than I used to be back then but through a whole lot of different experiences, I realized how important faith was going to be in my journey so that’s why I am so open with my faith. Yes, I work in a space that is entertainment media, pop culture, and sports, but faith is my favorite thing to talk about because it often informs the DNA of how people move in this world. You can tell how certain people operate with a bigger picture or a bigger purpose because they understand they are here on assignment from God. For me, my faith reminds me of the importance of my assignment and why I can’t just worry about a two-second interview over praying. If that means I have to wake up an hour earlier then I’ll just have to wake up an hour earlier and I’m not perfect because sometimes I be tired haha, but for the most part I understand that my energy and my source is God, so how am I sharing my light if I haven’t gone to the person who sparks the flame yet?
I am super grateful for my parents introducing to me what God is. As a member of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden I remember Pastor Jenkins and his sermons. In college, I got to know him and I remember him doing this sermon on fear is not a spirit of God but a spirit of the enemy and God gives us the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind and just speaking of all of the fruits of the spirit that I had never heard before. So in that moment, I decided that even though at that time there was really no such thing as entertainment journalism. Like there were little shows like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres but this was early so Instagram was just starting and Twitter was just starting so I didn’t know how I was going to make it as an entertainment journalist, but I’m going to make it work. So I decided that God and I were gone be on this journey and whatever things come for me will be from him, so I have to trust it even when it’s no and it’s painful and I have to trust it when it’s yes and show up and do my best!
Q: I must congratulate you on all your success for Black Girl Podcast! What was the creative process behind coming up with the podcast because I know you have a great team over there?
Gia Peppers: We all worked at Hot 97 around 2014, 2015, and 2016 at the time and Ebro Darden the head of the morning show there and now Apple Music’s global editorial for hip hop and R&B who is a legend in the hip hop space had me working on his website, Scottie working on the morning show as assistant producer, and then Alysha, Rebecca, and Sapphire working in the digital department and we are just started talking! When black women find each other it is the best thing ever! We were all just talking about a boyfriend situation in the middle of this lobby one day while the show was letting out and this person was coming in for their shift and Ebro would often hold court there and he was just kind of watching us one day and recorded us for his Snapchat and was laughing saying “This is what it would be like if black women had a podcast and then our co-host and friend Sapphire was like well…maybe, I think this would be lit.
So it took months because mind you had five women and five different schedules and finally we got in a studio for a test episode and sent it out to our friends to see what they thought and the feedback was they thought it was fire! None of us were sure of what it would be but we were sure that once we started having conversations it was a really awesome space to open up to be vulnerable about our journeys, about the other side of lives that people see, but the real things that keep us going, or what’s keeping us up at night, funny moments in pop culture, or just shady moments from a tv show we love. So it’s been a beautiful audio diary, and we’ve been doing it for four years and we are totally different women from when we first started and better women in many ways and also growing women as well so it’s been so awesome to have. I can’t wait to 1. Shield my kids from it for the first few years of their life but also be able to talk to my daughter and tell her I was right where you were at 20 and matter of fact here’s what I said then and we’ll talk about it.
I can’t wait to have those conversations with my family and my babies because I think it’s such a great capsule for the times we are in especially in 2020. Like we can look back on these times and be like “Y’all we could literally not leave the house and wasn’t outside. We were all scared we were all going to get covid. So it’s been a beautiful journey. We’ve seen people heal and change from it, have women who have legit cried with us, have prayed with us, have rooted for us, and have continued to support us so BlackGirlPodcast is one of my favorite things to do, and it’s really awesome that we continue to do it!
Q: Speaking of podcast, I am so excited about your new project! I know General Motors, Kroger, and Procter & Gamble each played a major part in the development and creation of this series, with “One Solution” producing it! Could you please tell us more about “More Than That With Gia Peppers” and what you want people to walk away with after experiencing this series?
Gia Peppers: The series is out so check it out wherever you get podcast! If you haven’t listened to the show I definitely recommend you check out the first three episodes. They are all 20 minutes. One thing I have seen throughout this last year especially with the racial reckoning and the Black Lives Matter movement that we are still fighting through and live with, there were a lot of different conversations about wellness, mental health, protection, justice, and just empowerment of the Black community and what that looks like now. So we decided to come together and create a space where these conversations can start happening in a more in-depth way to spark new ideas, ideologies and enlighten people to some of the work that is already happening when it comes to empowering the wellness and the overall well being of the black person in this country.
So we have conversations about eating right and why it’s important to know where your food comes from. We interviewed a black farmer named Samantha Foxx who is the founder of Mother’s Finest Urban Farms in North Carolina and she is everything! She raises goats, she is a beekeeper, and she’s so cool and she was just talking about how important it is for black people to go back to the land and how important it is to put our feet on soil and understand that yes so much hatred violence and oppression happened there to our ancestors but the land is a natural resource that will always connect us to the higher energies out there and it grounds us, it fuels us in ways that people don’t even understand.
In terms of black people and the healing journey of returning to that land where our ancestors literally gave everything to create this country. We shouldn’t be afraid to go back there. So we have these great conversations about wellness and veganism and all those different things that have come up with Pinky Cole who is the founder of Slutty Vegan ATL and we also have financial conversations with the founder of the only black woman-owned established venture capitalist firm The Fearless Fund Arian Simone who is a whole entire boss getting millions of dollars to help fund and support the dreams of black women.
Black women entrepreneurs are the highest growing group of entrepreneurs in the entire business class right now but at the end of the day we are also the least funded so Arian and her group of incredible women and founders and funders are changing the landscape of funding. We have had incredible conversations about just increasing and how we do life in this moment and just sharing new ideas as well. Again it’s a 20-minute show and hopefully, we can some of these extended interviews out because they are so ill! I think that it is such a great introduction into all the new topics that we are starting to see bubble because of all of the things we have experienced in this country and how they all came to a head. Because now that we know what it is the questions are raised of “How can we move forward now that we know what it is?, How can we move forward in our communities to help change, How can we move forward in sharing knowledge that helps change people from the inside out and from families and households all across this country? and How can we actually do this with intention?”. So I hope the conversation sparks a little bit of curiosity to the way of living.
It is such a great show and I have been in awe with how well it has been received because it’s also played on the radio stations all across the country. Of course, Radio 1 is it when it comes to syndication and black voices and promoting and protecting our voices within these human broadcast spaces so I’m so grateful for Urban One and all of our partners for this and I’m hoping that the people who haven’t listened so far love it and if you haven’t please go check it out everywhere podcast are streaming and we are also on social media at @MoreThanThatShow and its been a great first season and hopefully we get picked up for a second season so definitely tell your friends and family about it!
Q: As we focus on women’s history month who are some women that inspired you in your journey?
Gia Peppers: My Mom, Debbie Allen, and I would say my sister Gretchen and Beyonce. My mom is obviously the first person that I knew clearly because I was formed in her belly but as I grew older I understood how she is and she’s the reason why I hustle. She’s the reason why I have “BlackGirlPodcast“, “MoreThanThat with Gia Peppers“, “Giving You the Game” and also working with Entertainment Tonight and The Today Show as well. She has always shown me that working hard is a privilege and it’s a right but it’s something you can do well when you love what you do and my mom has always really loved what she does as a dentist. She’s now working at Howard University in the dental school and she often does free dental as well at times so she’s is booked and busy and I learned it honestly from her. I love watching her thrive and what she loves to do. That taught me how to thrive in what I love to do and taught me to approach things as not just taking on one opportunity at a time but understanding that if these opportunities are here for you doing your best and trying to show up and trying to figure out realistically ways you can put something in the pot at all times, so she is the person that is the blueprint or pink print if you will for me.
Also, Debbie Allen is the gold standard and an icon in so many ways whether she is directing, choreographing, acting, or doing whatever Debbie Allen wants to do in that day or moment, she is going to bring so much light, joy, talent, and just good spirit and energy to that space. Growing up I went to The Debbie Allen Dance Academy and studied there and did ballet with my sister and so many of my friends from Jones Haywood School of Dance which is in DC so shouts out to anybody who went to Jones Haywood! Jones Haywood was one of the first if not the first ballet school that accepted black girls. So when I was growing up we would go out there for the summers and we would be taught by the people who choreographed “You Got Served” and we would be dancing in class with people who were in that krump movie “Rize” or we would be in class with Evan Ross or walk out of the studio one day and look to the right and see Chris Brown and a girl group would be performing and getting ready for their tour. My experience there made the entertainment industry tangible for me.
It made me realize I could have a thriving career in entertainment as a black woman and as a black woman who loved being kind to others because Debbie Allen literally is like walking sunshine and so kind and so ill and so dope and my favorite part is that whether she is directing the Emmy stage or the Oscar stage or even directing an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” she always puts her students first! The Debbie Allen dance academy has “Dance Dreams” on Netflix so please go check that out and continue to support it because she is changing people’s lives! Taylor Paige was just starring in “Ma’Rainey’s Black Bottom” with Viola Davis and also Taylor Parx who was the writing partner for Ariana Grande but is now going off and singing and creating her own fanbase as well. She really is helping to mold the next generation of talent while being talent herself and that’s why she will always be such an inspiration to me so I just love her deeply.
Also, my little sister as well because she is the illest woman that I know. I always say she and Solange are of the same tribe haha. She always exudes love, light, black womanness, and fearlessness, so I always have to say my little sister Gretchen. She also has her own clothing line called In Black Women We Trust so please everyone go check that out as well. Lastly Beyonce as well! I ain’t gone hold you…getting my icy park box this year was definitely a major moment and I knew this year was bout to be different! Overall there are so many women that inspire me! Black women are light and beacons of hope and my tangible example of what can possibly happen for me in love, life, career, and faith.
Q: For the women and little girls out there that look up to and want to follow in your footsteps, what is some advice you could offer them?
Gia Peppers: Hmm, so much but I would always start with definitely staying connected to the source. One of my best friends Jovian Zayne who is everything and is the founder of DayOfPurpose always told me that as things start to rise no matter what to always stay connected to the source. So I have always made that such a point because opportunities come and go and things come and go but you have to remind yourself who you are and who holds tomorrow. It could be the greatest day of your life start with prayer or it could be the worst day of your life, start with prayer and end with prayer. Remember to pray and go to God. He is going to be your saving grace and your source behind you on days when you feel like it and when they’re days you don’t feel like it. Also, know that what is for you is for you. No person, no man, no thing, no obstacle, no woman, absolutely nothing can stop what is for you.
At the end of the day you should not compare yourself to anything or anyone and always be vigilant as to what you are putting in your mind and allowing certain thoughts to grow and not checking them because sometimes we live in this highlight reel life where everybody’s Instagram is popping and in two seconds you can be having the best day ever and someone has an opportunity or an announcement that you’re happy for but it makes you feel like “why didn’t I get that opportunity?”, and your whole vibe can change and it’s like no you have to understand that at the end of the day what’s for you is for you and what’s for them is for them. If they’re getting blessed then that just means that your blessing is close too. When God has a plan for you God wrote your plan before you were even a thought. He had your most abundant life in mind for you and you just have to trust it even in moments when it doesn’t look great you have to trust it because it is all happening for your good.
Just trust your process and continue to do your best and all the things that are happening will slowly but surely surprise you and shock you and you’ll know it was God. Also for any journalist out there study your craft or anyone who wants to be in entertainment study your craft, understand the importance of what it is that makes the great people the leaders in your community that you want to be in, study their stories, and really know the power of how to tell a good story and study that because it’s important to know what it is your getting into and study that lane.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years or where do you wanna be in five years? Let’s speak it into existence!
Gia Peppers: I see myself in five years running and operating a production company that is putting out content that is inspiring and sparks greatness in people and reminds them of the inherent gifts that they have, it reminds them that they matter and their voices matter and whether I’m hosting it or acting in it the content will ensure them that it is always going to be giving to people instead of taking from people. I want to be married and have a child or two. I would like to have had a wedding with my family there and have my dad walk me down the aisle with my mama help giving me away with my brother and sister in the wedding with me and celebrating with my family and friends. I would like to be healthy and happy and whole and still understanding God and his goodness and even more prayed up.
I have a few things in the works that I can’t talk about but I just hope that those projects are successful. I want BlackGirlPodcast that whatever it looks like at that iteration hopefully that will all be great in whatever it is that we are doing. It just depends on the lane God has me in but I know I’ll be wherever God needs me to be showing up as fully as possible because he has me there, just walking in my calling and understanding that he has me there. Television and film and maybe even anchoring a “Today Show“, it just depends on the journey. I don’t ever want to put myself in a box so also my big career inspiration has always been Queen Latifah. So definitely television, hosting, and maybe music who knows but all the things God has for me.
Q: Thank you so much Gia for taking the time. We really appreciate it!
Gia Peppers: Absolutely anytime! God Bless.
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